Like most people living near native forests we have been kept on our toes this summer wondering if the horrible widespread fires will reach our homes. Fortunately, the nearest I have actually been to the fires thus far is sitting in the Katoomba Library watching the billow of smoke rising from the Ruined Castle fire.
For me there have been surprises.
1. How a tiny fire many miles away can creep (or speed) in closer and closer. Take this one for instance I would never have thought a fire as far away as Palmers Oakey would end up at Brogans Creek and within the 10km zone for Clandulla.
2. Becoming obsessed with the Fires Near Me app, checking regularly to see if any of our properties are at risk. Here is how things currently look in the mountains. Again there are now fires within a 10 km radius of our home in Lawson but the weather is being nice this week giving the firefighters a chance to manage things.
4. Learning about the cleanup that has to follow a fire. On the Castlereigh Highway, which we use to move between our homes, they have been cutting down unsafe trees and mulching - it's a very big job. When we went through last week farmers were beginning to rebuild their fences and for those who lost their homesteads and stock it will take much longer.
5. The huge coordinated effort involved to bring under control such big fires in drought dry countryside - firefighters, dozer drivers, heavy plant operators, helicopter and fixed wing pilots, logistics managers, caterers and more. We are so thankful for the dedicated and brave people who have done this.
6. Many of the towns that have been burnt are small towns like ours. When I think of our little town and how devastating it would be if half of the homes and businesses were wiped out. And how hard it would be to rebuild homes and the community again. My heart goes out to all those small towns and their long road to recovery.
7. The amount of smoke haze and how long it is hanging about. I have a cough from the smoke but doing OK, others have it worse. Last week Mount Bocoble made a rare appearance (yeh I now know its name since I found it on the Fires Near Me app) And there are clouds in the sky too so we are hoping and praying for some rain this week.
Summer is not over but right now there is respite in these parts. I hope things are doing OK where you are.